In the United States (US), rabies was controlled after World War II mainly by initiation of vaccine and stray dog control programs.
Although rabies in dogs has been controlled in the US, it is still the animal species most responsible for rabies transmission to people in much of the world. Rabies is also widespread in wild mammals. In the US, bats, raccoons, skunk, and fox are the major reservoirs and serve as the primary source of infection to other animals and people.
In 1991, a resurgence of rabies in wild animals followed the spread of rabies in raccoons from southern states to Connecticut. By the end of 1995, each county in the state was affected. Rabid raccoons were the cause of the first rabid domestic animals in the state since the 1940’s.
In 1992, the highest number of rabid animals in Connecticut was identified (838). Since then the number of reported rabid animals has declined but infected animals continue to be found in all areas of the state. The decline reflects an actual reduction of the raccoon population due to rabies and a change in animal testing criteria.
In Connecticut, testing of wild animals for the rabies virus is limited to animals involved in exposure incidents with people or domestic animals. Therefore, the statistics presented on this page do not represent the total number of rabid animals in the wild. Rabies testing of animals is primarily performed to aid healthcare providers in the medical evaluation and treatment of people who may have been exposed. Testing is also done to guide animal control officers in the management of domestic animals that bite people or may have been exposed to the rabies virus through the bite of a wild animal. These statistics are useful to identify the species that most frequently test positive for rabies and the statewide distribution of rabid animals; they should not be used to evaluate risk of exposure. Connecticut residents may consult with their local health department or the DPH to evaluate their risk of exposure to the rabies virus.
Animals suspected of having rabies infection that have been involved in incidents with humans or domestic animals are tested at the Department of Public Health Virology Laboratory. Animals not involved in incidents with humans or domestic animals can be tested at the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Connecticut.
Human and animal rabies statistics are compiled by the Epidemiology and Emerging Infections Program of the Department of Public Health.